To tell a compelling story…

WTF did I get myself into?

Posted on: November 1, 2010

Today is November 1st.  If you’re online, then you know today marks the start of NANOWRIMO, or National Novel Writing Month, a month in which already-crazy writerly types attempt to pen an entire novel (50,000 words) in thirty days.

This is my first NANOWRIMO and I’m already frantic.  I don’t know what made me sign up for this event when November is the month of my wedding anniversary, my birthday, my husband’s birthday and Thanksgiving.  When will I have time to squeeze out fifty thousand words?  Worse, when will I have time to read anything? I’m a devoted and fanatical reader, often finishing four or five books a week. It’s how I recharge my batteries when my own writing just won’t come. I don’t see myself getting to read much, if at all, during NANOWRIMO. Luckily, I read Bill Cameron’s LOST DOG Saturday.  His delicious plot and outstanding characters have filled me with at least thirty days’ inspiration – and more, I hope.

When I put aside my Kindle, still engrossed in Bill’s world, I remembered something that renewed my hope. When I wrote BORDERLINES, I deleted more words than Nano’s fifty-thousand target. Can you imagine? I actually deleted over sixty thousand words from the finished manuscript. They were dull, lifeless and did nothing to further the plot along to the ending I’d envisioned so I slashed them. Well, actually, I moved them to an Outtakes file I keep. You never know when a bit of polish might restore the luster to a phrase you thought sucked.  The same thing happened while I was writing SEND.

Okay, I thought. So I know I can write lots of trash. But today is November 1st and all I have is a vague idea of what PAST PERFECT should look like.  For BORDER LINES and SEND, I had detailed outlines, character bios and timelines.  Then, I found a link to Meet Me in the Middle. Forgive me, I can’t find this link, but someone tweeted about the Meet Me in the Middle plotting technique late last week.

  • Number a page from 1 to 15.
  • At line 1, write a line that describes how you want your story to start.
  • Next, bounce to line 15 and write  how it should end.
  • Return to the top, at line 2, and write what happens after line 1, now that you know how the story should end.
  • Bounce from top to bottom until you “meet in the middle” at around step 8, I think.  I gave it a try and in about half an hour, I had a good idea of where my new story should go.  (Please comment if you saw the link, too!)

I can write fifty thousand words in a month. Will I keep them? Probably not. But I figure somewhere between Chapter One and The End, there will be some pearls. Maybe even a diamond.

Happy writing, everyone.

UPDATED 11/3/10:  Eureka! I found the link to the Meet in the Middle Plot Technique.

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4 Responses to "WTF did I get myself into?"

Kind of a ping-pong method of story outlining, huh? I like it!

I’m sure you’ll do great with NaNo. If nothing else, you will have more words at the end of November than you did at the beginning, and that’s a good thing. 🙂

hmm. now THAT is an interesting writing technique. and i have a feeling it lends itself to NaNo quite nicely. i can’t wait to hear how it goes.

best of luck!

Forgive me; I can’t remember who tweeted the link. When I find it, I’ll post it. It was interesting and I was surprised that I could plot out a novel in maybe half an hour. Of course, it’s not the detailed well-organized timeline I usually do, but for Nano, it may work.

Thanks for commenting!

I didn’t know what all the NaNo NaNo stuff was all about. I just thought it had something to do with Mork and Mindy. OKay that is not true. But I am glad that I didn’t know, because I would have wanted to do this and November is not the month for me either. This would work better for me in January or February. After all the holiday bustle and when I can start to breathe for the New Year. In fact…I am going to set this as a challenge for myself for the New Year. Thanks for the idea.

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Hi! Welcome to my blog. I’m Patty.

I'm a writer represented by Denise Little, The Ethan Ellenberg Agency. I love to tell stories, to boast about my sons, to indulge in a serious chocolate obsession. (I often combine these passions.)

During the day, I write software user guides, but at night, I let my hair down... and write whatever I want. (I know. You expected something else. Sorry.) I'm currently working on a YA story about sexting gone horribly bad called SEND. I use this blog to explore my passions.

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